If you asked my mom when she was alive when my transgressions began, she would tell you it all started when I played Rizzo in Grease my sophomore year of high school. She was convinced I got pregnant a year later because I played a girl who got pregnant and I started listening to “evil” music that made me do bad things.
What did happen is that I went into Grease a mainstream girl with jean mini skirts and bangs curled high, and came out as a budding goth-punk hybrid who wore all black or my stepdad’s camo pants with a t-shirt. I became friends with the older theater-music kids and they blew my world open with music and style. I stopped listening to the radio hits and started watching 120 Minutes on MTV. I gave up on Madonna and fell head over heels for Sinead O’Connor and Annie Lennox. I traded 17 magazine for Sassy. I felt as though I found my cultural home.
Early in my junior year my mom caught me skipping school when she was out of town and she tore the tape out of every single one of the cassette tapes my friends had made me with music that gave me life. She believed the devil was manipulating me through the music she couldn’t understand. I was devastated. I felt as though I was finally experiencing some freedom to discover and be myself and she tried to take it all away.
Of course playing Rizzo isn’t why I became a teen mother. Desperation for something that felt like love was a reason. Loving a deeply wounded boy on his way to Desert Storm was a reason. Naivete was a reason. Being kept from sex ed class for religious reasons by my mom was a reason, because I knew nothing about condoms and believed him when he said it was too tight (later he had the gall to accuse me of getting pregnant on purpose to trap him and get away from my mom).
What fascinates me is the difference in point of view between my mom and I. When I was finding my self expression she believed I was rebelling. When I found music that spoke to my soul she believed I was under the spell of Satan.